"TWO BOOTS" GUMBOLAYA
Necessity being the mother of invention, I took advantage of garden produce and refrigerator leftovers to create a new Cajun-style concept with an Italian accent tonight (hence "Two Boots," as in the East Village restaurant that marries the boot-shaped regions of Italy and Louisiana), combining a little bit of gumbo and a little bit of jambalaya to make a hybrid, "gumbolaya."
Slice about 1/2 cup fresh okra into 1/4-inch rounds.
Chop 1/2 of a white onion, 2 celery stalks, 1 small red bell pepper and 3 or 4 garlic cloves in the Cuisinart (steel blade).
Cut 4 ounces hot Italian capicola ham and 4 ounces quality salami into small dice.
Skin and chop 1 large or 2 small fresh tomatoes into large dice.
Make a seasoning mix with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme and 2 bay leaves.
Warm 3 cups chicken stock, and have ready 1 1/2 cups white rice.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a black iron skillet or dutch oven until it's sizzling, and put in the okra. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn brown (at which point its "slimy" quality will have cooked out). Add the onion mix and continue cooking for a few minutes until it loses its raw quality. Add the seasoning mix, stir once or twice, and then add the tomatoes. Stir until they're warmed through, then add the rice and the chicken broth. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to very low and cook, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring regularly to keep it from sticking on the bottom, until the rice is just done. Remove and discard the bay leaves, and serve.